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Christmas with Stanley-Fiction by Robert Kokan
Gravedigger Sunrise-Fiction by Zach Wilhide
Billy at One O'clock-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Christine's Tune-Fiction by Andrew J. Kolarik
Paid in Full-Fiction by Bill Baber
Is Today the Day?-Fiction by Thomas X. Cross
Dead Bodies Everywhere-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Murphy's Law-Fiction by Edward Ahern
The Ghost in the Factory-Fiction by Jeremiah Minihan
Communication Breakdown-Fiction by Joe Surkiewicz
So Long, and Thanks for All the Texts-Fiction by Jay Adair
Time-Share-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
It's Xmas and Maureen Feels Like Death Warmed Over-Flash Fiction by Gay Degani
Uncle Andrew-Flash Fiction by K. A. Williams
In a Nearby Church-Flash Fiction by Bethany Cody
What Happened after His Head Oozed-Flash Fiction by Michael Dioguardi
Prospero's Last Party-Flash Fiction by Jacqueline Doyle
Slick-Poem by David Spicer
Word Cruncher-Poem by David Spicer
The Life that Lives on Man-Poem by John Short
Pet Shop Story-Poem by John Short
dear tom-Poem by Meg Baird
the canvas-Poem by Meg Baird
A Killing-Poem by Ian C. Smith
Green Grass-Poem by Ian C. Smith
No Joke-Poem by Ian C. Smith
a soft landing-Poem by JJ Campbell
going through the motions-Poem by JJ Campbell
the shotgun still rests in the corner-Poem by JJ Campbell
an earthy affair-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
death loves the deep-space pirate-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
robotic mistress-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
A November Morning-Poem by John D. Robinson
Hard & Heavy-Poem by John D. Robinson
The Storm-Poem by John D. Robinson
The Earth Keeps Sabbath-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Obituary-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Rock Whisperings-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Longing-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Art by Noelle Richardson 2020

Christmas with Stanley


by Bob Kokan



  Well, Stanley, you nut-less mutt. It looks like its me and you for Christmas. Banished to the family room while in the kitchen, your Mommie Dearest and the evil in-laws carve up the turkey and whatever else gets in the way. You think that Snap Snap of turkey neck bones as I was walking in was just coincidence? They think I don’t know that’s me they’re carving in there? By their crooked smiles and that blissful satisfaction twisting in their eyes, must be a lot of joy in it for ‘em.

   Ah Jeez, Stan, put your leg back down will ya? Face it buddy, they’re gone. Lookin’ and lickin’ every twenty minutes ain’t gonna bring ‘em back. I guess I should have warned you at the vet that that was gonna happen. I just want you to know it wasn’t my idea. It’s always the first thing they do when they know they got you. I wouldn’t have cared if you were bangin’ old lady Klemments down the street. Probably would have done the old prune some good.

 Let’s get that sweater off you. I know she says it looks cute, but what it makes you look like is one of them California fairy dogs. We men have got to try to keep our dignity ain’t that right? What the fock, let’s just see what’s on the old Holiday telly shall we?

  Here we go. Channel eighty-four. The Andy Williams Christmas Special re-re-re-run. Really? My parents made me watch shows like this when I was a kid forty-five years ago. I can’t believe they’re still around. Some programmer sure has a mighty skimpy budget or a wicked sense of humor. Talk about bring out your dead. The Andy Williams fer Christ’s Sake Snooze-O-Rama more like it.

Look at this guy, Stan. He’s so white-bread boring, you think he ever cut a fart or picked his nose? And that awful sweater vest. Jeez God! He must have invented the damn things. I bet he had a whole dresser full of ‘em, with socks to match. Stan, I know it’s impossible but if you ever see me wearing a sweater vest you have my permission to take me out back and shoot me. Or chew my head off or somethin’.

  Okay Andy, I’m game, who ya got for guest stars? Charo?! Now here’s a broad who enters every room tits first. I can just see her “Cuchi-Cuchi-ing” back-stage with the sound boys, wigglin’ like she got an incontinence problem and not enough time to get to the can. Look at her, shedding sequins from the same red jumpsuit she’s worn to the other fifty thousand Andy Williams fer Christ’s Sake Christmas Specials. Old Cugat knew what people wanted. Some un-understandable bimbo with hair extensions who could jiggle her ass and chatter like a brainless monkey. They say she’s intelligent as hell though. Then she should cover up and get serious. Sing an aria from Evita or something. Look at her Stan, even back then she was too old for “Cuchi-Cuchi”. I’m not getting’ it up and I’ve been cut off for three months now ever since I said that Nancy Pelosi could be hot with the right negligee, the right light, and enough whiskey.

  Who else is on this thing? Charles Friggin’ Nelson-Reilly? Buddy Hackett dressed as Santa, bourbon stains down his beard? The June Taylor Syncopated Wheelchair Dancers? The Octogenarian Acrobats swapping dentures in mid-air?  That’d be a stellar line-up! The casting director for this mess could have been the Grim Reaper.

  Stan, we’re exiled in here watching this pathetic bullshit from a million years ago, while they’re in there kicking the carcass around like Pele, who I’m sure will show up next with Andy singing Feliz Navidad with the Brazilian Boys Street Urchin Choir. Nice touch! Tug at the old American heart strings a little.

  I’m sure everyone in the control booth was drunk by now on rum eggnog and cheap network whiskey, throwing tinsel around and getting naked, while poor old Andy crooned away on stage serious as a saint. These shows always make me want to take out the Uzi and write Merry Christmas on the garage wall with a spray of nine-millimeter bullets.

  Ah shit! What’s the use old boy? I need a beer! Nothin’ says Merry Christmas like a cold Pabst Blue Ribbon. Unless it’s a dozen more, cold Pabst Blue Ribbons.

  Dinner’s ready! Come and get it! Jesus! Will you listen to her bleating?  Like marching orders from General Patton’s grandma or somethin’. You think that just once, at least on Christmas, for Christ’s sake, she could say it nice, ya know.

  Well, old boy, I better go. Straight to the knives. Sorry about that nut-less crack earlier. I know just how you feel.

Art by Noelle Richardson 2020

Robert Kokan has recently had poems published in Bramble, the ezine Breathe, the 2021 Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Calendar, and won first place in the Kay Saunders Emerging Poet contest. 

Noelle Richardson comes from a relatively large family and has been illustrating and painting for about twelve years. She writes a little on the side, plays a couple of instruments and dabbles in tattoo design.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2020